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The worktop was covered with notes, papers, vials and test-tubes, rubber tubing and bits of scientific debris scattered across ancient tomes and modern textbooks. In the midst of it stood a Kilner jar, the top securely clipped shut.

“Now,” he muttered, looking at the jar and stroking his chin, “What should I do with you?”

In the jar a king raged, kicking and hammering at the glass walls.

He laughed, a sardonic and cruel sound. “You won’t get out,” he told the king. “That jar is quite secure enough to hold you. Well, with the modifications I’ve made it is, anyway.”

He stood up and spoke, more to himself than to the king in the jar, as he paced the room. “The problem I have is that you’re an unknown factor. Not covered in any of the notes I have. It’s like attempting to use a new element; until you try it you don’t know what reactions it might cause.”

He paused and folded his arms, looking back at the jar with an eyebrow raised and his mouth to one side. “What’s more it’s like using an element you have no proof for. Well, not quite. I have proof of your existence, you’re right there.”

He strode back across the room and lifted the jar, examining the king inside closely. “I can see you, capture you, and contain you. But I don’t believe in you. How does that make you feel, little fairy king, hmm? Do you shrink at my lack of belief? Does one of your minions somewhere keel over and die every time I say it? Is it a barb in your heart when I say I don’t believe in fairies?”

The king raged at him still, but didn’t seem to be reacting specifically to his words.

“Pah,” he said, setting the jar down again so roughly that the king inside fell over. “It doesn’t matter. I’ll still find a use for you. One day.”

© Kari Fay